Saturday, March 25, 2017

Living With Mental Illness in America


"I start to think there really is no cure for depression, that happiness is an ongoing battle, and I wonder if it isn't one I'll have to fight for as long as I live. I wonder if it's worth it." - Elizabeth Wurtzel

"My depression has followed me around my whole life like a black dog, a spectre from which there has been no escape." - Winston Churchill 

"I speak of a clinical depression that is the background of your entire life, a background of anguish and anxiety, a sense that nothing goes well, that pleasure is unavailable and all your strategies collapse." - Leonard Cohen

"I have suffered with mental illness silently for the great majority of my life. Thankfully, for the past few years, I have begun to seek help. Admittedly, however, it has not been easy. The hardest part is being taken seriously." - Kent Allen Halliburton

Living with mental illness in the United States can be a nightmare. First, you have to get past the stigma. People with diagnosed mental illnesses are looked upon by many as either dangerous or a complete waste of flesh. They are not taken seriously, and they tend to get marginalized. This has an additional side effect. This treatment leads to many people with several mental illnesses living much of their lives in silent pain and suffering just to avoid the stigma of being declared mentally ill. For some, it gets so bad that they end up either dead from self medicating or homeless because they are unable to function normally. Further, in the past, admitting to mental illness carried an additional spectre. If a person admitted to being mentally ill, they could end up in a permanent facility for the terminally insane.

Once a person has managed to get past the stigma and is getting treatment for their illness, they have to spend months and even, sometimes, years going through examination after examination to find the right combination of medications that makes it possible for them to function normally in society. This struggle can be a massive pain all on its own. Unfortunately, for some, they are never able to reach normalcy, and they struggle their entire lives, even on meds, just to function like a human being. This trip can have severe negative effects on people. In between medications, people can end up in the hospital where they can be locked away for months at a time while medical professionals attempt to stabilize them.

Luckily, mental health is beginning to be taken more seriously and many more people are beginning to get the treatment that they need to function in normal society. However, there is much left to be done. New medications are coming out all the time, and many medications have side effects that are worse than what they are meant to alleviate. Further, people with severe problems, fearing the consequences, may not want treatment. This puts their future in a precarious position. Most mental facilities are no longer designed for permanent residency. This means that a person cannot be easily sent away for life. So, what happens if they have no family to live with? Further, what happens to them if they are poor or no one in their family can foot the bill for a life long care facility? Usually, they end up on the street.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, upwards of twenty-five percent of the American homeless population, in excess of five-hundred thousand people, is mentally ill. They admit, though that this number may be under estimated. This is so because their numbers rely on responses to in person examinations and logistical information gathered from local municipalities who measure mental illness among their local homeless populations. So, what kind of mental illnesses are Americans suffering from. Lately, because of the wars in the Middle East, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has come to the forefront of Psychiatric care. There are also illnesses like Schizophrenia, which is a mental disorder that is characterized by hallucinations, either auditory, visual, olfactory, or tactile, and delusions. It is usually treated with a combination of anti-psychotic medications and psychotherapy.

If you have a mental illness that is going untreated, please, do not be afraid to seek out the help that you need. Their are resources for you out there. You just have to look for them! If you have no other options and are beginning to feel helpless, check yourself into the hospital. They are obligated, by law, to get you the help you need. Remember that there is always tomorrow!

This piece is the beginning of a series of pieces on mental illness. The main goal will be to list major mental illnesses and examine exactly what they are and how they effect people.

1 comment:

  1. As long as Big Pharma, the prison industry and insurance companies are profiting, there will be no cure or search for a cure.

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